August 28, 2018, Illinois
Media reports suggest that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is going to ratify the Alternatives to Opioid Act soon. The bill has been pending for quite some time. As the name suggests, the act would allow patients who have been prescribed opioid products to switch to medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain. The patients would be issued temporary MMJ cards valid for 90 days.
The validity of the card can be extended on physician’s suggestion. However, the patients getting this provisional permit would be required to comply with the stipulations of the state’s medical marijuana program. For instance, the cards will only be issued after biometric verification and necessary background checks. According to the former director of the Illinois MMJ program, the ratification of the act would help tens of thousands of patients in discontinuing highly addictive opioid medications.
The Alternative to Opioid Act was written and sponsored by two state Democratic senators. The purpose of introducing such legislation is to address the issue of the opioid epidemic that has badly hit Illinois. According to the statistics furnished by the state’s Department of Health, around 2,000 deaths occurred by opioid overdose in 2016.
The numbers are staggering in comparison to the destruction of opioid overdose in other states. The deadly epidemic brought upon by a prescription drug instilled a sense of urgency in the lawmakers to deal with the issue. Therefore, Sen. Don Harmon, one of the co-sponsors of the act, came up with the proposition to allow medical cannabis to all those patients going with opioid prescription and eventually getting addicted to the substance.
Democrat senators presented the bill on the Senate’s floor in April and it got passed in the same month. House of Representatives also approved the bill in the following month. From then on, lawmakers have been waiting for the final seal of approval from the governor’s office.
Opioid and medical cannabis
The use of opioid and medical cannabis is extensively interlinked. According to a research paper published in the Journal of American Medical Association, daily opioid prescriptions experienced a cut of two million in the states with running medical cannabis programs. The research also reports a drop of 3.7 million daily opioid doses when MMJ dispensaries were opened in the legal states. One can easily deduce from the report that the legal availability of medical cannabis automatically decreases the consumption of opioids.
Opioid is life-threatening
Opioid-related deaths are a reality. Like Illinois, the health department in every state contains the record of deaths caused by opioid abuse. The excess of opioid in the system can prove to be fatal. However, one can’t say it about cannabis. In the last many decades, not a single death has been reported due to cannabis overdose. For that matter, amid lesser academic evidence of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, it’s still not considered as a life-threatening substance.
MMJ advocates are hoping that Gov. Rauner will ratify the bill into law. If he vetoes the bill, then the bill would require a three-fifths vote from both chambers of the legislature to become part of the legislation.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]